The National Parang Association will host the Divas of Parang at Central Bank Auditorium, Port of Spain, on April 22 from 6 pm.
Its purpose is twofold: to observe the association’s 52nd anniversary (April 19) and to highlight the many women who contribute to the art form.
The association’s PRO Joanne Briggs said the idea to host the event was stirred by another it held for its 50th anniversary.
That year there were awards and the reintroduction of the National Parang Orchestra of Trinidad and Tobago.
“At that event we had the orchestra performing with some guest singers and it turned out to be such a pore-raising event we thought that the next event we have, we would have the orchestra teaming up with some more singers.”
This was how the Divas of Parang came about, Briggs said.
It is also a spinoff from last year’s Parang History Month which paid tribute to the parranderas.
“It is a culmination of celebrating last year and coming into fruition this year that we have this celebration of parang with the voices of women.”
It will feature 13 parranderas including Jennifer Ann McPherson, Dr Francisca Allard, Gail Ganpat, Alicia Jaggasar and Briggs.
“Together, combined, we have contributed to the parang movement for close to three decades. What we realise, traditionally; it has been the fellas at the front. You hear about the Lara Brothers, Leary Collymore…all those voices are legends in their own right.
“People hear about Gloria Alcazar, Daisy Voisin and Clarita Rivas but we never really sat down and realised how that trajectory carried the women’s voices into the art form today. So we tried to curate those voices and tell people of our history.
“During the Christmas season, you are hearing these voices but you don’t know who they are.”
She said the association is celebrating these voices while they are still alive.
These women compose, arrange and are leaders of bands and many people do not recognise the significant contribution they make to the preservation and continuation of the music.
Parang is often relegated to Christmas, Briggs admitted and said people often did not realise that there was also parang at Easter.
This was something the association wanted to change and the concert helped to do this.
“It does not necessarily mean that parang can happen at Christmas time alone. It can apply to any time that we want to and that is why we are saying let us start from here and see how far we can push the envelope and let people know that parang can happen at any time and any place,” Briggs said.
The association has been working to build the parang community over the past years by doing online parang workshops and inviting people interested in song making and learning to play the cuatro.
But to do these require funding and that is a challenge it faces.
The association hopes to do more now that covid19 restrictions are lifted.
Briggs said doing the show at this time also helps to strengthen the association’s presence in the cultural landscape and assist in its fundraising.
She said the association is aware it needs to find ways to monetise but this requires the parang body to sit down and figure out its next steps.
The association wants to use its headquarters at 22 Hollis Avenue, Arima, to do some of its projects but the space is in need of repair.
It did not have a full subvention for the past three years because of the covid19 pandemic which would have helped in getting the repairs done.
This is something it intends to work on, now, Briggs added.
She reminded TT that, “Parang time is any time” and it was music.
“If they come to Divas they would hear exactly what I am talking about,” she said